Norco Op­tic C2

A short-travel trail bike for a wide range of routes

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Terry Mck­all

A short-travel trail bike for a wide range of routes

Norco has re­designed its pop­u­lar Op­tic. The new frame is an in­ter­est­ing beast. It has only 125 mm of rear wheel travel, matched with a Rock­shox Su­per Deluxe Ul­ti­mate DH shock and slack geom­e­try led by a 65-de­gree head-tube an­gle. While un­con­ven­tional, the mix works. The lat­est vi­sion for the Op­tic is a wildly fun ride, very ca­pa­ble and in­spir­ing on a wide va­ri­ety of trails. The short-travel trail bike falls into a broad cat­e­gory that in­cludes bikes with very dif­fer­ent pur­poses. The pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of Op­tic looked more like a tra­di­tional cross coun­try bike, pri­or­i­tiz­ing climb­ing while making some con­ces­sions to i mprove de­scend­ing abil­i­ties. Oth­ers, such as Gi­ant’s Trance 29 or bikes from Kona, Tran­si­tion and Evil, have flipped that script to fo­cus on de­scend­ing. With the 2020 Op­tic C2, Norco aims to max­i­mize fun on the downs, while giv­ing up as lit­tle climb­ing prow­ess as pos­si­ble.

Norco sig­nals its change in in­ten­tions for the re­designed Op­tic by spec’ing the high-end Su­per Deluxe Ul­ti­mate DH shock across the en­tire line. The Cana­dian brand has put the time in de­vel­op­ing the Op­tic’s geom­e­try and sus­pen­sion to build a bike that can ride very con­fi­dently on rowdy trails and can bring flow trails to life. Norco knows that the proper sus­pen­sion is cru­cial to get­ting the most out of the de­sign, which is why the Op­tic C2 comes with a shock nor­mally found on bikes twice the price.

As the DH shock and the 140-mm Pike Se­lect Plus fork sug­gest, the Op­tic is hap­pi­est when you are push­ing hard. Once you get into the bike’s travel, it pos­i­tively comes alive. On flow trails and berms where a longer-travel bike can feel vague or flat, the Op­tic is play­ful and poppy. Start hit­ting big­ger trail fea­tures, and the Op­tic re­mains im­pres­sively com­posed.

At fac­tory-rec­om­mended set­tings, fol­low­ing Norco’s Ride Aligned fit sys­tem, the big-hit ca­pa­bil­ity comes at the cost of be­ing slightly less sen­si­tive to small bumps. Tak­ing 5–10 p.s.i. off the rec­om­mended pres­sure for rides on the more cross coun­try side helped. While not a per­fect fix, it’s an easy ad­just­ment to make a bike go from smile-in­duc­ing trail shred­der that hap­pily takes on what­ever steep lines and big hits you throw at it to fast ped­alling Xc/trail bike.

While the Op­tic clearly sets its sights on max­i­miz­ing fun on the de­scents, it’s also a ca­pa­ble climber. It makes for a sta­ble ped­alling plat­form with the ef­fi­ciency for more runs or big­ger, far rang­ing rides. There’s no lock-out switch on that DH shock, but the Op­tic ped­als well enough so you won’t miss the fea­ture.

To hit the Op­tic C2’s com­pet­i­tive price point with­out giv­ing up sus­pen­sion per­for­mance, Norco uses a sram GX Ea­gle driv­e­train, Stan’s No­tubes Flow S1 rims and DT Swiss 350 hubs. Shi­mano BR-MT520 brakes with 180-mm-di­am­e­ter ro­tors pro­vide am­ple and con­sis­tent stop­ping power on sus­tained steeps. It’s a solid mix of parts that per­form con­sis­tently while keep­ing the Op­tic within a bud­get.

All in, Norco has put to­gether an ex­cit­ing bike with the Op­tic C2. The short-travel trail bike’s play­ful char­ac­ter will make any route more fun, while its sus­pen­sion de­sign and shock let you con­fi­dently steer into big fea­tures and steep runs.

“On flow trails and berms, it’s play­ful and poppy.”

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